Barbra-The Concert

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October 07, 1994 at 04:00 AM EDT

The record of Barbra Streisand’s first tour in three decades isn’t just a show. Barbra — The Concert is an interview, bio, shrink session, state-of-the-union address, and ad for the New York City Tourist Board. Not one word from her windy stage patter escapes this memento. How many times can we endure her thoughts on life, including lines like ”Do we always need a popular catastrophe to remind us that we’re all just people?”

Thank God music remains the main event. Especially since these 22 performances bask in a sound Streisand hasn’t allowed in the studio since Nixon entered the White House. For over two decades, the singer smeared her records with gauzy production, burying her gifts in echo. Live, however, she clears away anything that could distract from her glistening instrument. She may back herself with a 64-piece orchestra, but the arrangements remain stunningly spare.

Streisand also scores points by focusing on the standards and show tunes most worthy of her sophisticated skills. In songs like ”He Touched Me,” Streisand navigates notes with the grace of a ballet dancer. In every swell and depression of her lungs, she makes the music dance. A-

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